Shht, don't tell anyone yet, but we might get a new VDP card for MSX computers soon. Working name of the card is Franky, and it sure has some potential if it's going to be produced. This card is for MSX1 computers and up. It's based on the Sega Master System / Mark III VDP, the 315-5124 or 315-5246 (both versions will likely be supported on the final product).

It can not only play Sega home-brew software after some code adjustments, but it will also give your MSX a total of 6 PSG channels because a PSG that only differs a little from our own is build-in the VDP. The Sega VDP is backwards compatible with the MSX1 screen modes but adds a new mode with support for 64 colors and smooth scroll in both directions.

When this card is finally available (MSX1) developers can easily port existing code to this new VDP and add some support for it's new functions. Sega developers can probably use this card and a MSX(1) to port existing MSX1 code to Sega. The possibilities are endless, especially if you look at the projected roadmap..

Active developers can apply for a sample card (to be produced when testing is completed) by submitting their projects. Read all about it on their website.

Related link: SuperSoniqs

Comments (65)

By hap

Paragon (2021)

hap's picture

01-07-2009, 17:38

hmmmmumblegfx9k..anyway SuperSoniqs, have fun with the project. Smile

By sinus

Expert (79)

sinus's picture

01-07-2009, 19:27

All the best for this great project! Hope you'll finalise it. Nice way to have little MSX1s (and up) back to force. Possibilities seems endless, and really concrete considering SMS existing products.

Is there a way original VDP (1, 2, 2+) screen can be superimposed on/under the SMS VDP screen? (2 layers, like VDU kind of project does...)

Sin Tongue

By muffie

Paladin (933)

muffie's picture

01-07-2009, 19:39

Hang On guys!

By Ivan

Ascended (9120)

Ivan's picture

01-07-2009, 20:39

What is the estimated price?

By muffie

Paladin (933)

muffie's picture

01-07-2009, 21:08

wouter and hap are competing to see who emulates Franky first

By MäSäXi

Paragon (1884)

MäSäXi's picture

01-07-2009, 21:22

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-HAAAaaaah!!!!!!!! LOL!LOL!

At Last!! Smile

I guessed it was that sms topic, when I read working name "Franky"! Tongue

Franky is nice name, please do not change it!!!!!!!!!!! Big smile MSX-1 turns to real Frankie-boy when it eats Franky! Wink Tongue

Six PSG channels sound nice! Running Naked in a Field of Flowers

Hmmmm.... tell me, supersoniqs, is it "open-the-case-and-solder-Franky-inside-by-yourself" or are you making Franky cartridge?

In latter case, or anyway, do you have any plans to make sms cartridge/card adaptors for MSX?

Yes, what is estimated price for Franky?

I really hope that at least some MSX-1 developer could get interested about Franky! Smile Thought when thinking realistically, it would be a LOT, if Franky get just few new or modified titles, as "everyone" is stuck into their msx1 projects already. Wink But lets hope Franky can get software it needs!!!! Smile

By Manuel

Ascended (15815)

Manuel's picture

01-07-2009, 21:32

But, why not use GFX9000 on an MSX1? It can probably easily emulate this SMS mode (can it, msd?)

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

01-07-2009, 21:51

SuperSoniqs told me the following (subject to change and can also be partly be read at their website):

Developer cards as long as stock last when produced: Zero

About the production costs: It depends on choices to be made yet. Maybe there will be a DIY kit, maybe there will be a card with all necessary components but without the VDP, maybe there will be a complete product and maybe there will be a combination possible, depending on demand.

But please: the targeted production cards as stated on the website will support the VDP, 4 MB ram and the MOS 6581, the latter two controlled by a FPGA. This board will at least be produced without the VDP and MOS chip on them. Targeted production costs without profit, warranty etc. will be around the 25 to 30 euro's depending on IC's used.
How much the card will cost you, will depend on what you pay for your local sms1,sms2 and/or C64 as I have been told. Probably a card with all the components on it will also be sold and at least be supplied to active developers. Price will depend on prices for secondhand sms/c64 and or old IC stock buying.

The board design will be released under GNU license probably and VHDL code for the FPGA also.

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

01-07-2009, 22:00

And (this had to be a secret I've been told): The final card will make use of the audio in option of the SID. That means you can use the SID as an effect processor for your FMpac, PSG or moonsound music in realtime.

By sunrise

Paragon (1091)

sunrise's picture

01-07-2009, 22:37

@manuel ofcourse , but adding 80 colums is necessary donot you think.
A 4 MB mapper already exist, so why inventing the wheel again

By muffie

Paladin (933)

muffie's picture

01-07-2009, 23:19

about gfx9000 (which is a wonderful product) vs SMS vdp, two words:
SOFTWARE DATABASE...

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

01-07-2009, 23:23

Imagine you made a game that uses 4mbit. To large for the MSX1. Image your game also uses opll music, you need an extra slot. If you need both the memory and the VDP and the FM sounds, then you need to buy a slotexpander for your msx1. Not with Franky, if I read correctly.

By sunrise

Paragon (1091)

sunrise's picture

01-07-2009, 23:33

A msx-1 isnot to handle the existing slotexpanders and doesnot have 80 colums-ofcourse that doesnot exclude good games-
Padial has already a combined pac/psg/scc card . And what about a 1 slot msx-1
And very doubtful if a msx-1 can be expanded to 512K

By W76NearDark

Paladin (684)

W76NearDark's picture

01-07-2009, 23:40

Why still use a MSX1 when there are plenty MSX2's or higher for sale at very attractive prices...... Think about the advantages.

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

02-07-2009, 00:16

I don't think current remarks should be about msx1 vs msx2... That's not what this post is about...

By mohai

Paladin (841)

mohai's picture

02-07-2009, 10:53

to manuel:

GFX9000 can be, of course used in a plain MSX-1, but is not SMS compatible. Video modes are a bit different, though. Game adaption could be possible with GFX9000, but heavy emulation and changes should be needed.
Franky seems to be a perfect option for this.

By iamweasel2

Hero (526)

iamweasel2's picture

02-07-2009, 17:02

This is a really cool project, and it is born with a potential of many softwares to support it, after all there are hundred of sms games that can be ported to work in msx with this card! Smile

One question remains: Are sms vdp and psg chips available to be bought or is it really necessary to get old sms videogames and take them from it? I

By karloch

Prophet (2066)

karloch's picture

02-07-2009, 18:43

Well, as usual, software is the key. Using this card, how much work would be required to make a SMS game work in MSX+Franky?

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

02-07-2009, 19:38

315-5124 (Mark III VDP and used in first SMS version) seems to be available from old stock. I buy a SMS2 here, without power supply and controllers / damaged casing for about 5~10 euros. Just visit some local flea markets. Field testing shows that you need about 30 minutes per program if you want to change code manually. SuperSoniqs is working on code that will auto convert your programs. First version has been published on their site. VDP out commands, memory bank switching, PSG out commands, OPLL -in some programs- and second joystick routine is needed. Example code will be published when done according to the developers.

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

02-07-2009, 19:44

And please, a total of 13.4 million Sega Master System units have been produced. All MSX systems together: about 5 million....

By karloch

Prophet (2066)

karloch's picture

03-07-2009, 00:24

@Sander: That means software right out of the box to take advantage of the card. This looks promising.

By st1mpy

Champion (498)

st1mpy's picture

03-07-2009, 12:37

This is very exciting. I would have prefered if the whole cartridge was FPGA, and SMS VDP is recreated in FPGA. And I would rather pay for it and try out before committing on a project...

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

03-07-2009, 14:11

Everybody has the right on his own opinion Smile. Creating and debugging Sega VDP code is not really their thing. Besides, let's recreate MSX2+ VDP perfectly first in OCM, and then talk again Wink

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

03-07-2009, 14:18

Theoretically the Sega VDP could also be emulated on the OCM. Probably just a matter of extending the MSX1 VDP VHDL code. But then, you need to buy a secondhand OCM for about 400 euros on ebay. Hmm, I rather stick with SuperSoninqs low cost solution Smile Someone started to try to recreate the SID in VHDL. But that project has been stopped because that guy died. But still, it would never sound the same as the real thing, because the SID only sounds the same when you have two of the same batch, from the same factory. Different batches, different casings and different materials gives every SID it's own unique topping. Try that in VHDL.

By sunrise

Paragon (1091)

sunrise's picture

03-07-2009, 14:18

IF it fits

By st1mpy

Champion (498)

st1mpy's picture

03-07-2009, 14:48

Sure, I'll wait for the emulator implementation of this to try out then.
I would love to try it out right now though... can't there be a separate price point for someone that might not do a project?

By iamweasel2

Hero (526)

iamweasel2's picture

03-07-2009, 16:57

Well, if there are sms vdp available, it seems to me that fpga implementation, although nice, would only delay the project. One thing that would be nice would be able to mix the sms vdp signal with the msx vdp, allowing you not only to play sms games (and enhanced msx1 games using the sms vdp) but also make new games / improve old ones to use the 2 vdps at the same time! That would allow a new class of games to be made, in the same way as the VSU project from Ricardo Oazem does! Smile

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

03-07-2009, 17:25

If you read the blog of SuperSoniqs you'll find out that overlaying is probably not possible. Maybe with external hardware. But, why do you need overlaying? The SMS VDP will scroll your program in every direction. If you have a dual monitor setup, you could use the other VDP/Monitor for scoring tables, map overviews, item pages, dual player games (f.i. when using the sms vdp MSX compatibility modes) etc. etc.

By karloch

Prophet (2066)

karloch's picture

03-07-2009, 18:52

I want to run Golden Axe, Sonic and Ninja Gaiden in my MSX Tongue

By Manuel

Ascended (15815)

Manuel's picture

03-07-2009, 18:58

sander: why? because otherwise you need 2 monitors or some switch device.

By muffie

Paladin (933)

muffie's picture

03-07-2009, 19:11

Ok, but that's not the way gfx9000 works?
I asked @ msxbr-l, how VSU does that superimpose thing.
They told me that it's possible by using color 0 on the original VDP, plus another circuit connecting the two vdps in order to sync them frame by frame. Maybe because of that it's impossible to do it from a cartridge...

By PingPong

Prophet (3459)

PingPong's picture

03-07-2009, 19:41

Have this SMS VDP the same horrible delay restrictions of the msx1 vdp's when writing to vram?

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

03-07-2009, 21:46

@Dhau: please talk somewhere else about dogs. Thnx. I would like to keep this thread useful. On topic: If you want to now more about the speed of the VDP you should apply for a card. Or wait a little until other explorers have done some programming with it.

By MäSäXi

Paragon (1884)

MäSäXi's picture

04-07-2009, 10:53

Have you at supersoniqs planned how those SMS-->MSX-1 ports can be used then?

Load them from disk (was and is RARE thing for MSX-1) or load it waver way from any cd-player? (which is more like MSX-1 way, since it loads like tape)

But does waver need some modification then to convert sms-->msx-1?

And anyway, you can´t load every sms game into msx-1´s memory from cd-player or disk, as memory ends at 64Kb (if your msx has that much)

Or do you have plans to make and publish sms ports as msx cartridges?

Then, if you are gonna make Franky inside cartridge, then you cannot use ported cartridge games on MSX-1s which have only one cartridge slot. Sad

Unless you make Franky as cartridge which has cartridge slot on top of it. Smile I recommend this option to make Franky usable on EVERY msx-1!!!!!!!! Big smile

By MäSäXi

Paragon (1884)

MäSäXi's picture

04-07-2009, 10:57

Karloch was faster than I... but here´s my porting wishes: Wink

*Alex Kidd in Miracle World
*Alex Kidd The Lost Stars
*Pit Pot
*Sonic the Hedgehog
*Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap
*Wonder Boy in Monster Land
*Quartet
*Newzealand Story - thought I rather would play Viejo´s SCREEN 2 one. Wink
*Rainbow Islands - same here, Viejo´s fake SCREEN2 screenshot looks much better than SMS one! ;D

By st1mpy

Champion (498)

st1mpy's picture

04-07-2009, 13:59

I want, Ren & Stimpy Show: Quest for the Shaven Yak, Game Gear version (or Brazilian SMS port version).

By karloch

Prophet (2066)

karloch's picture

04-07-2009, 16:29

sander: why? because otherwise you need 2 monitors or some switch device.That's quite a problem :/

By JohnHassink

Ambassador (5417)

JohnHassink's picture

04-07-2009, 16:44

*Newzealand Story - thought I rather would play Viejo´s SCREEN 2 one.
I'm so glad you say this!
I always wished for an MSX port of this game, now I know it even exists! Smile

By dhau

Paragon (1557)

dhau's picture

04-07-2009, 19:20

Wow, me comparing SMS VDP on MSX to a fifth leg for a dog got removed. I really hope that person that removed my comment gets cancer, as well as his children, parents and siblings. Wife can stay cancer free for now Tongue

By Vampier

Prophet (2297)

Vampier's picture

04-07-2009, 20:11

@dhau oO : dude that's just so wrong on so many levels.

By PingPong

Prophet (3459)

PingPong's picture

04-07-2009, 20:35


Wow, me comparing SMS VDP on MSX to a fifth leg for a dog got removed. I really hope that person that removed my comment gets cancer, as well as his children, parents and siblings. Wife can stay cancer free for now

Effectively, the people that removed your post is a stupid one, but i think you are exagerated!

By MäSäXi

Paragon (1884)

MäSäXi's picture

04-07-2009, 20:36

...and now I make you unhappy, demonseed. There exists one SCREENSHOT about how it would look on MSX-1. Wink Check karoshi forum, search words "los archivos", select first result, in the halfway you see Alex Kidd In Miracle World clone screenshot and bit after halfway of the page you find Rainbow Islands screenshot, and just few games more and there is The New Zealand Story screenshot. Last one looks like Amiga one, just minus graffitis and some little extra colour. Smile

By lionelritchie

Champion (439)

lionelritchie's picture

04-07-2009, 20:56

convert MOONWALKER from SMS to MSX in homage to MJ. AU.

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

04-07-2009, 22:14

@Dhau: I just asked to stay on topic. Your comments are meaningless. I just buried two family members because of cancer.

By dhau

Paragon (1557)

dhau's picture

04-07-2009, 22:18

Awesome! Sir, I applaud you for exhibiting a sense of humor, rare commodity those days, I must say. And opposition to SMS on MSX is a valid opinion, completely on topic.

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

04-07-2009, 22:25

@MäSäXi: the way developers distribute their programs is up to them. Sure, things could be loaded from tape, waver, laptops or cd-roms. We hope to get a memory mapper in the final product so size is not a limit anymore. True, you still have to load the software. But, in Brazil there are a lot of MSX1 computers with disk drive. For the rest of us: try buying a disk drive, or better yet a flashcard reader. disks are so 1990. ;P

By sunrise

Paragon (1091)

sunrise's picture

04-07-2009, 22:28

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

04-07-2009, 22:34

Hmm. But then, that's only sid sound..Smile

By sunrise

Paragon (1091)

sunrise's picture

04-07-2009, 22:56

Expensive too, but the reason was a little to show that they offer also the chip set for eur 15

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

04-07-2009, 23:24

True, but only if you buy the hardsid. What they do is that they will buy a secondhand C64, rip out the SID and sell it to you. Some people complained waiting weeks for their chip.

By sunrise

Paragon (1091)

sunrise's picture

04-07-2009, 23:34

Sad ! Because if you buy such an expensive unit you must provide -but who am I- new ones meaning goodones for this price.
Besides that there is a lot a fake chips. But the 315-*** I saw available at ic2.com

By Yukio

Paragon (1541)

Yukio's picture

05-07-2009, 00:40

Good news ... Keep the secret!

By muffie

Paladin (933)

muffie's picture

05-07-2009, 02:56

Just did some .ROM experiments. But it shouldn't really be a problem to convert games to .COM, .BIN or even .CAS
Sander, do you know if Dennis have tested my latest file? If it's ok, I'll start some larger ones using msx internal mapper using .COM files.

By Ivan

Ascended (9120)

Ivan's picture

05-07-2009, 11:22

I thought, more than once, about buying a GFX9000 but the lack of software prevented me from doing it.

This new card is going to be a successful project imho: it is almost an MSX VDP (easy to develop for) and it can be a bridge between Sega and MSX with ports of Master System games to MSX.

Btw, I don't like the name of the card (Franky). Choose a decent name...

By MäSäXi

Paragon (1884)

MäSäXi's picture

05-07-2009, 14:12

I think Franky is a good name, as it sounds like eighties chip names. Smile

Amiga 500 had Agnus, Paula, Denise and Gary. Smile MSX-1 can now have Franky!

And Franky reminds me that it is real Frankenstein´s monster when inserted in MSX-1! Big smile

By MäSäXi

Paragon (1884)

MäSäXi's picture

05-07-2009, 14:16

Hopefully someone does sid player for msx to play sid files on real msx which has franky´s sid batch inserted. Smile

By W76NearDark

Paladin (684)

W76NearDark's picture

05-07-2009, 14:25

Ok, this seems to be nice hardware.... but i still must find a reason why i should buy it. Why shouldn't i play all the SMS games on a real SMS (which can be bought extremely cheap)? I bet Franky will be a lot more expensive besides the fact games also need to be converted.

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

05-07-2009, 15:26

Lot's of reasons of course :-) The fun is not only in playing sms stuff on MSX. Final product also will have SID and Memory mapper if everythings goes well. That's something SMS doesn't have. Second, when SMS hardware is used in combination with MSX developments, the possiblilities are endless. BTW: there's some Japanese SMS stuff that makes use of the OPLL chip. Only the Japanese SMS had that chip. Should be easy to support the FM-PAC. Try that with European SMS Smile And we'll try to keep final product as cheap as possible. With a little luck it will be cheaper that buying a SMS in a retroshop. Finally: it's just fun to have. And nobody will force you to buy one Smile

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

05-07-2009, 15:31

@Muffie: don't know about that. You should ask Dennis. He does not really read mail during the weekends.

By Sander

Ambassador (1845)

Sander's picture

05-07-2009, 15:38

BTW: We are doing this primarily because we think it's fun doing this. Maybe this card will never make it to production. It would be nice, for those people who want it, but that's it.

By jltursan

Prophet (2190)

jltursan's picture

06-07-2009, 17:50

Anyway, looks like a great hardware. Although I'm already the owner of a GFX9000 I would be happy to buy this piece of hard if the price stays as expected. Is there an aproximate release date?

By iamweasel2

Hero (526)

iamweasel2's picture

06-07-2009, 18:48

Indeed, I think it is a nice piece of hardware, specially because it doesn't seem that it will suffer from the lack of software that other msx hardware does. I hope the hardware will allow the faithful conversion of as many sms games as possible in order to help its adoption. Smile

By PingPong

Prophet (3459)

PingPong's picture

06-07-2009, 19:07

@sander: maybe you can think about a female name instead of franky? it's more nice. IMHO Wink

By cidra

Master (202)

cidra's picture

06-07-2009, 21:00

How about to name it "Frida"?
It's a female name...

And keep this work coming. Great stuff.
Finally MSX will be able to have decent versions of Altered Beast, Moonwalker, Shinobi.
Alex Kidd for MSX? Cool.

Sure, we have emulators and it's possible to buy cheap SMS and so on.
But it's fun to do this for MSX.

Keep up with the good stuff.

By muffie

Paladin (933)

muffie's picture

08-07-2009, 15:43

gee, not Frida. Reminds me Frida Kahlo.

images.smarter.com/blogs/frida%20kahlo.jpg

Franky is just perfect.
Amiga's had female chips, but MSX have Add-ons MADE FOR MEN. Like my line on the conversions: REAL CODING FOR REAL MEN...

and remember, MRC is a G*Y free website...